Bruins teammates react as Thomas decides to walk away

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Bruins teammates react as Thomas decides to walk away

So now Tim Thomas has posted his Facebook message and appears to have played his last game as a member of the Boston Bruins.

It was a glorious, borderline Hall of Fame career on the ice, and a quirky journey off it that ended disappointingly with the 38-year-old goaltender walking away from his career-long organization with no more than an eight paragraph posting on a social message board.

The goalie didnt expressly state that he had definitely decided to sit out the 2012-13 season, but hell never be welcomed back to the Black and Gold after pulling a stunt that basically served as the final straw.

Thomas is still an ultra-talented, unique goaltender in the twilight of an unlikely career, but it appears that a good deal of his teammates had tired of answering all the questions surrounding his eccentric choices and political leanings.

One anonymous Bruins teammate reached for comment on Sunday had nothing meaningful to say about Thomas exit, and instead texted CSNNE.com back with the response: Good for Tuukka?

The reference, of course, was to Tuukka Rask taking over the starting goalie reigns while serving as a popular teammate in the Bs dressing room.

Thomas decision to sit out for the season appears to have a number of different factors behind it: occupational burnout, family considerations, uneasiness with a potential trade away from the Bruins after July 1 and just some plain, good, old-fashioned goofiness.

He termed it as time to focus on the family, friends and faith that he sometimes neglected during his hockey career.

Nobody on the team begrudged Thomas leaving the team to be with his family in Colorado, and rightfully so.

But it was clear his teammates also recognized the Vezina Trophy level goaltending they might be missing out on an elite level of play that led them to their Stanley Cup title last season.

He's a big part of our team. Everyone has the responsibility to make their own decisions in life. I haven't lost any respect for him, said Tyler Seguin to CSNNE.com. I'll miss him. He's got my best wishes. Hopefully I'll be able to be out on the same ice with him again.

Two other Bruins players reached by CSNNE.com didnt feel strongly enough about Thomas leaving to comment, and defenseman Dennis Seidenberg was supportive of his teammate attending to family matters.

If he feels like thats what he needs to do for his family then thats okay, I guess, said Seidenberg. Its tough to judge.

While it was news to every Bruins player reached on Sunday of Thomas sabbatical, it appears that many of the players had started preparing to move after dropping the seven-game series to the Washington Capitals. The Bruins goaltender appeared to be removing himself from the rest of his teammates with his comments, and spoke haltingly when asked if he still hoped to remain a member of the Bruins.

Those kinds of actions raised an eyebrow at the time, but were dismissed by some as strange locker room coincidences in the heat of playoff battle.

But now they make a lot more sense as a sneak preview of a hockey player that looks poised to walk away from his lifetime NHL employer.

STANLEY CUP FINALS: Guentzel's goal lifts Penguins by Predators 5-3 in Game 1

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STANLEY CUP FINALS: Guentzel's goal lifts Penguins by Predators 5-3 in Game 1

PITTSBURGH - Pittsburgh rookie Jake Guentzel beat Nashville's Pekka Rinne with 3:17 left in regulation to put the Penguins ahead to stay in a 5-3 victory in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final on Monday night.

Guentzel snapped an eight-game goalless drought to help the defending champions escape after blowing a three-goal lead.

Nick Bonino scored twice for the Penguins. Conor Sheary scored his first of the playoffs and Evgeni Malkin scored his eighth. The Penguins won despite putting just 12 shots on goal. Murray finished with 23 saves for the Penguins, who used the first coach's challenge in finals history to wipe out an early Nashville goal and held on despite going an astonishing 37:09 at one point without a shot.

Game 2 is Wednesday night in Pittsburgh.

Ryan Ellis, Colton Sissons and Frederick Gaudreau scored for the Predators. Rinne stopped just seven shots.

The Penguins had all of three days to get ready for the final following a draining slog through the Eastern Conference that included a pair of Game 7 victories, the second a double-overtime thriller against Ottawa last Thursday.

Pittsburgh downplayed the notion it was fatigued, figuring adrenaline and a shot at making history would make up for any lack of jump while playing their 108th game in the last calendar year.

Maybe, but the Penguins looked a step behind at the outset. The Predators, who crashed the NHL's biggest stage for the first time behind Rinne and a group of talented defenseman, were hardly intimidated by the stakes, the crowd or the defending champions.

All the guys from the place dubbed "Smashville" have to show for it is their first deficit of the playoffs on a night a fan threw a catfish onto the ice to try and give the Predators a taste of home.

The Penguins, who led the league in scoring, stressed before Game 1 that the best way to keep the Predators at bay was by taking the puck and spending copious amounts of time around Rinne. It didn't happen, mostly because Nashville's forecheck pinned the Penguins in their own end. Clearing attempts were knocked down or outright swiped, tilting the ice heavily in front of Murray.

Yet Pittsburgh managed to build a quick 3-0 lead anyway thanks to a fortunate bounce and some quick thinking by Penguins video coordinator Andy Saucier. Part of his job title is to alert coach Mike Sullivan when to challenge a call. The moment came 12:47 into the first when P.K. Subban sent a slap shot by Murray that appeared to give the Predators the lead.

Sullivan used his coach's challenge, arguing Nashville forward Filip Forsberg was offside. A lengthy review indicated Forsberg's right skate was in the air as he brought the puck into a zone, a no-no.

It temporarily deflated Nashville and gave the Penguins all the wiggle room they needed to take charge.

Malkin scored on a 5-on-3 15:32 into the first, Sheary made it 2-0 just 65 seconds later and when Nick Bonino's innocent centering pass smacked off Nashville defenseman Mattias Ekholm's left knee and by Rinne just 17 seconds before the end of the period, Pittsburgh was in full command.

It looked like a repeat of Game 5 of the Eastern Conference finals against Ottawa, when the Penguins poured in four goals in the first period of a 7-0 rout.

Nashville, unlike the Senators, didn't bail. Instead they rallied.

Ellis scored the first goal by a Predator in a Stanley Cup Final 8:21 into the second. Though Nashville didn't get another one by Murray, they also kept Rinne downright bored at the other end. Pittsburgh didn't manage a shot on net in the second period, the first time it's happened in a playoff game in franchise history.

Nashville kept coming. Sissons beat Murray 10:06 into the third and Gaudreau tied it just after a fruitless Pittsburgh power play.

No matter. The Penguins have become chameleons under Sullivan. They can win with both firepower and precision.

Guentzel slipped one by Rinne with 3:17 to go in regulation and Bonino added an empty netter to give Pittsburgh early control of the series.

Morning Skate: No surprise cheap-shot artists are running wild

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Morning Skate: No surprise cheap-shot artists are running wild

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading while hoping everybody on this Memorial Day takes some time to appreciate all of those that made the ultimate sacrifice to protect our freedom. We should also take a moment to say thanks to people like the three heroes in Oregon that stood up to a hateful bigot earlier this week, and in doing so reaffirmed what the majority of people living in the US believe we are all about while trying to live up to that ideal every day.
 
-- A number of NHL legends are shaking their heads at the dirty play that we’re seeing in these playoffs, particularly those plays targeting the superstars that people pay big money to see in the postseason. Why should anybody be shocked by this? The rooting out of enforcers, and fighting, has taken accountability out of the game for the cheap-shot artists and dirty players, and leaves little real deterrant for players looking to take out opponents with dangerous plays. I wrote about this a couple of years ago when the NHL threw the book at Shawn Thornton for going after Brooks Orpik, and in doing so chose to protect somebody trying to hurt opponents (Orpik) and punish somebody trying to protect his teammates (Thornton). It was a sea change for the league, and something players didn’t forget as more and more enforcers were quickly weeded out of the NHL. This is what the rule-makers and legislators wanted, and now it’s what they’re getting just a couple of years later with dangerous stick-work, cheap shots and a general lack of respect for fellow players.
 
-- Here's why the Tampa Bay Lightning would consider trading a player like Jonathan Drouin, and the major impact that could have on the offseason trade market.
 
-- Down Goes Brown has a Stanley Cup Final rooting guide for the other 28 other fan bases now that Nashville and Pittsburgh are in the final series.

-- So which goaltender has the edge in the Stanley Cup Final: Nashville's Pekka Rinne, or Pittsburgh's two-headed monster of Matt Murray and Marc-Andre Fleury?
 
-- Scotty Bowman says winning back-to-back Stanley Cup titles has become monumentally difficult since the advent of the salary cap.
 
-- Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin are pushing each other to be betters, and showing exactly how a team should be led by its superstars in the salary-cap era for the league.
 
-- For something completely different: We can confirm through this report that a lot of hot dogs are eaten in the summertime. So glad we have people to research these kinds of things.